Father and son diving from boat reunited after going missing on KZN South Coast

The Spirit of Dawn, the NSRI craft stationed at Shelly Beach

The Spirit of Dawn, the NSRI craft stationed at Shelly Beach

Published Dec 22, 2022


Durban — A father and son who got separated and were missing while diving from a boat were reunited after a multidisciplinary search party went out to look for them.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said that on Wednesday afternoon, the NSRI Shelly Beach duty crew was activated after a local boat with a crewman of the boat on board, arrived in Ramsgate and reported that two divers, a local father and son, who had been diving from the boat, were missing.

They were last known to be diving in the vicinity of seven nautical miles off Ramsgate and they were adrift in their wetsuits and scuba dive gear.

Lambinon said that the crewman had searched for over an hour but after failing to find the divers, he raced to Ramsgate to raise the alarm.

He said that five local men, including skippers of private boats, members of Ramsgate Ski-boat club and commercial skippers, refuelled that boat and with that boat's crewman aboard, they launched to respond to the last known position of the divers while raising the alarm.

He said that the NSRI Shelly Beach rescue craft Spirit of Dawn was launched, accompanied by NSRI Shelly Beach duty crew and a police search and rescue officer. Med-Evac ambulance services launched their vessel, God's Gift, with NSRI crew, Med-Evac paramedics and a Police Search and Rescue officer.

NSRI Port Edward launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of Steve.

Lambinon said that the NSRI EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) placed NSRI Durban on alert and MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) was activated.

“It was estimated that the two divers would be drifting towards Port Edward and an estimated speed of drift was calculated,” Lambinon said.

He said that MRCC instructed Telkom Maritime Radio Services to broadcast an all ships alert for vessels in the vicinity to be on the look-out.

NSRI headquarters operations assisted NSRI’s EOC, in co-operation with MRCC, to plot search patterns.

Lambinon said that private and commercial ski-boats Mesteph and Spitzbuble launched from Shelly Beach. An additional three private and commercial boats launched from Ramsgate. The private and commercial boats Shot for Shot and Vagabond launched from Port Edward – all to assist in the search.

He said that an NSRI Durban rescue swimmer boarded the Port Net Transnet National Ports Authority helicopter, activated by MRCC, and responded to join the search operation.

Hendrik Ludick, of Airtrac Extreme Security, alerted Margate ATC (Air Traffic Control), which broadcast an all-aircraft alert for aircraft flying in the area to be on the lookout.

Lambinon said that Hendrik launched his Robertson 44 helicopter to search along the shoreline, while Rivermead Poultry diverted their Cessna 206 fixed-wing aircraft to join the search. An unidentified pilot, on a Mooney 20 fixed-wing aircraft, kept a lookout while flying through the search area.

He said that lifeguards along the South Coast on duty at beaches searched along the shoreline.

Moreover, Colonel Pine Pienaar, of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), a SAAF (South African Air Force) commander, arrived at the NSRI Shelly Beach rescue station and he assisted NSRI duty controllers in the operation co-ordination.

Lambinon said that during the search, the NSRI Port Edward rescue craft that was 7 nautical miles off-shore of Palm Beach noticed the Mooney 20 aircraft circling about two nautical miles further out to sea.

“We believe the crew on the boat boat Shot for Shot had set off a red distress flare after locating and recovering the dad and that drew the attention of the Mooney 20 aircraft,” Lambinon said.

“On arriving at that the blocation at 2.37pm, NSRI Port Edward found the private boat Shot for Shot had located and recovered the father from the water. (He was about nine nautical miles south of where he had originally gone missing).

“That casualty dad remained on the boat Shot for Shot which continued to assist in the ongoing search for his son who was still missing,” Lambinon said.

He said that later, NSRI Port Edward noticed one of the boats (that was engaged in the search), Vagabond, heading towards the NSRI Port Edward rescue craft.

“On arriving at the NSRI Port Edward rescue craft at 3.20pm, seven nautical miles off-shore of Palm Springs, it was found that they had located and recovered the son (he was sven nautical miles from where they had originally gone missing).

“He was then transferred onto the NSRI rescue craft and he was brought to Port Edward where he was reunited with his dad,” Lambinon said.

“NSRI provided them refreshments and some treatment for dehydration, hypothermia and exhaustion. Both are okay requiring no further assistance.

“It appears that they had separated when the son had attempted to swim to shore,” Lambinon continued.

He said that the NSRI stations 20, 32 and 5, MRCC, Transnet National Ports Authority, The Portnet TNPA helicopter, NSRI EOC, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, lifeguards, Med-Evac ambulance services and the SA Police Services Police Search and Rescue commended everyone involved in this operation for the swift reaction – with a special thanks to the private and commercial boats, private aircraft, Margate Air Traffic Control duty controllers and SAAF's Colonel Pine Pienaar.

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